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Monday, February 15, 2016

Enchanted Air, written by Margarita Engle. Atheneum, Simon & Schuster. 2015. $19.99 ages 10 and up

“It really is possible to feel
 like two people
at the same time,

when your parents
come from two

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know Margarita Engle and her brilliant writing. I am in awe of her skill with words and her ability to use poetry to tell the most memorable and heartbreaking stories. Every word is chosen with extreme care, and used to create stories that need to be shared.

Her stories of Cuba, where her mother was born and where Margarita spent lovely family vacations, are lessons in culture and caring about others. In Enchanted Air, she writes about growing up in Los Angeles while loving both countries. The strain between the two have a tremendous effect on the entire family, and cause great anxiety for the young girl. It is her own story; yet, it speaks to the many who come from other countries to settle in a new and unfamiliar place with questions needing answers about fitting in and finding a home.

 “Is there any way that two people
 from faraway places
 can ever really
understand each other’s

The two lives - life on the island and life in Los Angeles - could not be more different for her. As the war between Cuba and the United States worsens, her worry increases. Her fears for those who live in Cuba and the plight of the Cuban people living in America are expressed in the writing that we are blessed to share. It is such a personal story, allowing us to see into her heart and feel the pain that she is feeling, and into her head to see the sense of hope that comes from writing it down. Her love of words and the books that house them is the same in both places.

"The ugliness of war photos
and the uncertainty of TV news
join the memory of FBI questions
to make me feel like climbing into
my own secret world.

Books are enchanted. Books help me travel.
Books help me breathe.

When I climb a tree, I take a book with me.
When I walk home from school, I carry
my own poems, inside my mind,
where no one else
can reach the words
that are entirely

This heartfelt memoir simply ups my admiration, encouraging me to continue to read every story from her skilled hands.

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